News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 19th December 2003

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Richard Dreyfuss and Lee Evans will star in the London production of Mel Brooks musical The Producers, directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, opening at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on 9th November next year. Based on Brooks 1968 film, it is the story of an unsuccessful Broadway theatre producer who enlists the help of his timid accountant to make a fortune by presenting a sure fire flop called Springtime For Hitler, and oversubscribing the investment. The show opened in 2001, becoming one of the most successful Broadway shows of all time, and winning a record breaking 12 Tony Awards.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, Michael Gambon, Lee Evans and Liz Smith are to star in Samuel Beckett's Endgame, directed by Matthew Warchus, at the Albery Theatre from 10th March to 1st May. Since it's impossible to summarise any Beckett play, suffice to say this is the one where he's in a wheelchair and his parents are in dustbins.

The Everyman and Playhouse Theatres, which huddle together to keep culture alive in Liverpool, have announced their spring season. In the Playhouse: Corin Redgrave, Paola Dionosetti, Mark Rice-Oxley, Eileen Walsh and Leslie Randall star in John Osborne's The Entertainer, which equates the demise of the Music Hall in the 1950s with the demise of Britain, directed by John Tiffany; a double bill of Noel Coward's Still Life (filmed as Brief Encounter) and The Astonished Heart, directed by Philip Wilson; and August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, the story of a blues singer, directed Gemma Bodinetz. In the Everyman: Roy Marsden in Calderon de la Barca's The Mayor Of Zalamea, a story set in 17th century Spain, directed Gemma Bodinetz; the UK premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, about two people struggling for acceptance in 1960s South Carolina; and Fly, a first play about small town relationships, by Katie Douglas.

Pam Ferris and Ralph Little star in Notes On Falling Leaves, by Ayub Khan-Din, directed by Marianne Elliott, opening at the Royal Court Theatre on 12th February. It is the story of a mother suffering from Alzheimer's and her son, looking back to the past, but unable to connect in the present. Prior to this, John Alderton, Sara Beharrell, Liam Garrigan, Caroline O'Neill, Jeremy Swift and Majorie Yates will star in the Court's previously mentioned production of Richard Bean's Honeymoon Suite, directed by Paul Miller, opening on 12th January.

Following a financial crisis and an Arts Council bailout, which has seen the removal of executive director James Williams, Hampstead Theatre has postponed its next production, the world premiere of Drew Pautz's All This Stuff, and revised its schedule. Hanif Kureishi's When The Night Begins will now run from 1st March to 3rd April; Alistair Beaton's political satire about the Iraq situation Follow My Leader will transfer from Birmingham Rep from 21st April to 22nd May; and Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman from the Liverpool Everyman will follow.

Contemporary opera company Tete a Tete perform Family Matters, about a nuclear family about to go off, at the Bridewell Theatre from 6th to 22nd February. The piece has music by Helen Chadwick, Pete Flood, Mike Henry, Cheryl Francis-Hoad, James Olsen and John Webb, and lyrics Amanda Holden. The company comprises Darren Abrahams, Rob Burt, Sarah Jillian Cox, Omar Ebrahim, Aris Nadirian and Adey Grummet, who are directed by Bill Bankes-Jones.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Dept A reminder that it is not too late to purchase Theatre Tokens. Available in units of 1, 5, 10 and 20, they can be exchanged for tickets at over 210 venues nationwide, including all West End theatres. As they have no expiry date, the recipient can choose which show they want to see, and when and where they want to see it. The Tokens are delivered in a presentation pack with a free theatre guide, and can be combined with chocolates, champagne, programme and drinks vouchers, and meal packages. Tokens are available from most theatres, major bookshops and ticket agencies, and the tkts Ticket Booth in Leicester Square. Alternatively they can be bought direct from the 24/7 Tokenline on 020 7240 8800 or online from the Theatre Tokens web site via the link from The Emporium section of TheatreNet. Don't just give an object this Christmas - give an emotional experience.

The Young Vic has announced the final production before it closes for a 12.5m refurbishment. Cruel And Tender, a contemporary adaptation of Sophocles Trachiniae by Martin Crimp, starring Kerry Fox, directed by Luc Bondy, will receive its premiere from 5th to 15th May and 17th June 10th July. The play takes the original story of marriage and violence and translates it into a modern world of political hypocrisy and emotional terrorism. The producers are the Young Vic, Wiener Festwochen and Chichester Festival Theatre Productions. The Young Vic's previously mentioned production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin Of Our Teeth, which runs from 4th March to 10th April, will star David Troughton.

At the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, Ian Bartholomew, Douglas Henshall, Lyndsey Marshal, Sinead Matthews and Ruby Turner will lead the company in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, from 10th to 28th February, directed by Anna Mackmin. Miller tells the story of a 17th century witchcraft trial in Salem Massachusetts as a way of attacking the McCarthy communist witch-hunts of the 1950s.

The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith's winter season will include Neil Bartlett's new adaptation of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist, which draws its inspiration from the Victorian Music Hall tradition, with Nicholas Asbury, Michael Feast, Sally Hawkins, Paul Hunter, Jordan Metcalf, Owen Sharpe and Louise Yates, opening on 25th February; and the return for what is claimed to be the last time of Cultural Industry's self styled 'junk opera' Shockheaded Peter, based on Heinrich Hoffmann's alarming gothic children's stories, featuring the original cast of Julian Bleach, Anthony Cairns, Graeme Gilmour, Tamzin Griffin and Jo Pocock, with music by The Tiger Lillies, directed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, from 8th April.

The Rumour Machine says: that Patrick Marber is adapting Zoe Heller's novel What Was She Thinking - a dark comedy about a teacher drawn to a younger female colleague who is having an affair with a male student - for the screen, with Judi Dench in mind; that Birmingham Stage Company hopes to bring its production of Paul Lucas The Dice House, inspired by Luke Rhinehart's 1970s novel The Dice Man, to the West End in February; and that Andrew Lloyd Webber is planning a West End revival of Evita in 2005. The Rumour Machine grinds on.